If you’re currently partnered, think back to when you first met your partner. Chances are you thought about how much you liked them and wanted the feeling to be mutual, but you probably didn’t think about the daily work it would take to make that heady feeling last.
While there’s no magic pill to make a relationship happy and healthy, there are some things most happy couples do that help keep their relationships strong. Your mileage may vary (every relationship is different, after all!), but here are a few tips to try.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Good communication is absolutely crucial in any lasting relationship. Remember that none of us is clairvoyant, so we all need to express ourselves in order for our partners to learn what we want and need. It’s important to give your full attention to your partner when they’re speaking (instead of tuning out while you plan your response) and be respectful of their feelings (especially if they’re broaching a challenging topic for them).
- Learn how to argue constructively. When you have to communicate about a difficult subject, you’ll need to know how to do that without completely blowing up. Before you’re in the heat of an argument, take time to set ground rules for disagreements—including giving each person a chance to be heard as well as a promise that the other person will truly listen.
- Be appreciative. Even though you thanked your partner for cooking all the dinners last week when you were swamped at work, expressing your gratitude again is a good idea. Make an effort to notice the things your partner does without being asked and with no expectation of appreciation—and then let them know you noticed.
- Celebrate similarities, celebrate differences. It’s wonderful when you and your partner have shared interests. Take advantage of that by planning fun activities together doing what you both love. On the flip side, couples don’t need to do everything together—and, in fact, relationships often benefit when people have time away from one another. Absence really can make the heart grow fonder. Encourage each other to take that solo time.